Congratulations to Nadia Murad, who along with Dr. Denis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to end rape as a weapon of war. Learn more about her story here:
Congratulations to our Penguin Random House authors who have been chosen by the respective five category judges as “longlisted” semi-finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards. Wednesday, October 10: The “shortlist” of five finalists per category will be announced. Wednesday, November 15: The five winners will be revealed at the annual National Book Awards dinner. See below for our semi-finalists in each category.
Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction
Melissa Dahl joins Amy to talk about CRINGEWORTHY, her book all about the science of awkwardness. They discuss reframing emotions, exposure therapy, and all the sweaty, nervous, self-conscious stuff our bodies put us through.
Roger Hodge, author of Texas Blood, joins Amy to talk all things Texas. They touch on family history, pilgrimages, Cormac McCarthy, and the borderlands.
When I was young, Maeve Binchy was one of my favourite writers. She had this knack of creating characters who came alive. You somehow felt the people who owned the shops and arrived late for mass were real, and you knew them. I learned later from listening to interviews with Binchy that they were—at least their conversations were real. Binchy told stories of riding buses every day just to listen to snippets of conversation. On one if these bus journeys she overheard a young woman telling her friend she was going shopping for a silver wedding anniversary card for her parents. The friend marvelled that at the longevity of her parent’s marriage. ‘They’re miserable as sin together,’ she replied. ‘The worse the marriage, the bigger the card.’ That conversation went on to inspire Binchy’s successful book, Silver Wedding. Hearing the author’s story reminded me of the hundreds of missed opportunities to notice something that might just spark our next big idea every day. Like Binchy, I grew up in Dublin. The population at the time was around a million people. But it somehow always felt more like a village than a city. I think that’s because permanently curious Dubliners love to talk and exchange stories. It’s not unusual to stand at a bus stop and to suddenly get into a conversation with a stranger. Within minutes you’ll be hearing about where they’re going or coming from and what the doctor diagnosed them with that morning. I miss those days—the pre-smartphone era when we looked up and into each other’s eyes and saw something unexpected there. Now we play pedestrian pinball as we try to avoid bumping into each other, palms up, eyes down, earbuds in, minds diverted and hearts closed. We’ve stopped being curious about the world outside our curated feeds. We’re neglecting to nurture the very things that make us more creative and imaginative and more human. I often wonder what Steve Jobs would think if he were transported back to earth almost six years after his death. Is this what he would have wanted his ‘ding in the universe’ to be? Big ideas start out as whispers in unexpected places. Sometimes they happen while you’re sitting alone in a bathtub or under an apple tree. Other times they are gifted to you on a crowded bus during rush hour. It’s your job to be listening out for them. Learn more about the book here:
As we herald our newest Pulitzer Prize winners – in an unprecedented four of the five Letters categories – we celebrate all of the 131 titles published by a current or legacy imprint of Penguin and Random House that have been awarded a Pulitzer since the inception of the Prize more than a century ago. They include some of the defining fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of the past 100 years, such as: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz in 2008: Ghost Wars by Steve Coll in 2005: Lindbergh by Scott Berg in 1999; The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck in 1940; The Road by Cormac McCarthy in 2006; The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro in 1975; Promises: Poems 1945-56 by Robert Penn Warren in 1958; Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow in 1976; The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkingtonin 1919; and Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas in 1986. Here are our four newest Pulitzer winners! Biography The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar. Edited by Noah Eaker. Pulitzer citation: “For a first-person elegy for home and father that examines with controlled emotion the past and present of an embattled region.” Susan Kamil, Hisham Matar’s publisher at Random House, said, “It’s thrilling to see Hisham’s work so recognized by the Pulitzer jury. The Return is about Hisham’s personal search for his father, but his art elevates it into a universal quest for justice.” The Return previously won the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Fiction The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Edited by Bill Thomas. Pulitzer citation: “For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.” Colson Whitehead commented, “I don’t even know what to say — this has been a crazy ride ever since I handed the book in to my editor. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who picked up a copy and dug it, and to all the kind folks who championed it along the way — the booksellers, the reviewers, the awesome Oprah Winfrey, and the judges. It’s a nice day to put ‘New York, New York’ on the headphones and walk around city making crazy gestures at strangers.” The Underground Railroad has sold over 825,000 copies in the United States across all formats. An Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, #1 New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Book Review Ten Best Books of 2016 selection and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the book chronicles young Cora’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping her Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. General Nonfiction Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Edited by Amanda Cook. Pulitzer citation: “For a deeply researched exposé that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty.” Ms. Cook commented, “It’s been an honor for all of us at Crown to help bring Evicted into the world. Matt Desmond writes with great heart and intellectual rigor about America’s housing crisis. He follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads, showing us how a lack of stable shelter traps families in poverty and destroys lives meant for better things. Matt often says, ‘We don’t need to outsmart poverty; we need to hate it more.’ With Evicted, he has helped us do exactly that.” Evicted previously won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonficiton, the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2017 PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, and the 2016 Discover Great New Writers Award in Nonfiction, among other honors. History Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson. Edited by Edward Kastenmeier. Pulitzer citation: “For a narrative history that sets high standards for scholarly judgment and tenacity of inquiry in seeking the truth about the 1971 Attica prison riots.” Mr. Kastenmeier commented, “Heather is a remarkable historian who has spent the last ten years of her life working diligently to make sure she could do justice to this story before it is too late. She has shown remarkable courage and fortitude in researching a story the authorities didn’t want told. We need that now more than ever. In the years she’s been working on this book the issues it raises have become more urgent than ever. For all these reasons I could not be happier for her upon this news.” We thank and congratulate Hisham Matar, Colson Whitehead, Matthew Desmond, and Heather Ann Thompson, their respective editors Noah Eaker, Bill Thomas, Amanda Cook, and Edward Kastenmeier, and our colleagues at Random House, Doubleday, Crown Publishers, and Pantheon for continuing and building upon one of our proudest literary traditions. To view the complete 2017 Pulitzer winners list, click here. Learn more about the winners here:
Garrard Conley joins Amy to talk about his memoir, BOY ERASED. They talk about his time in gay conversion therapy, finding himself afterwards, and focusing on compassion.
Editors get very passionate about books they work on – the Editor’s Desk series is his or her place to write in-depth about what makes a certain title special. Get the real inside-scoop on how books are shaped by the people who know them best. When a surprising trend takes hold, it’s easy to think of it as something unprecedented. But sometimes it seems that way due to our own limited perspective. Much of fashion in any field is the re-introduction of things that were popular once upon a time—and such is the case with the adult coloring book trend, which has so affected the publishing business in recent years. Not long ago, a fellow editor shared with me an article in the New Republic about adult coloring books. Putting the fascination with meditative examples of the category in context, the article described a moment in the 1960s when grown-ups were crazed for coloring books, many of which were powered by provocative—even subversive—humor. I hadn’t been around to witness the first big boom of adult coloring, so I was intrigued by the article. Then it identified the genre’s genesis: an incendiary little thing called The Executive Coloring Book. The Executive Coloring Book by Marcie Hans, Dennis Altman, and Martin A. Cohen was published in 1961. It begins this way: “THIS IS ME. I am an executive. Executives are important. They go to important offices and do important things.” The work of three young advertising copywriters, it became a surprise bestseller and debuted on the New York Times list just a few slots down from Franny and Zooey and To Kill a Mockingbird. On every page, the authors struck innocent-looking line drawings against deadpan captions. The spark that results is a fierce humor that skewers an era but also comments on the more general phenomenon of corporate culture that is alive and well today, 55 years later. The genius of the thing is that that humor feels perfectly current. So many of today’s biggest companies could stand in as targets for these darts, and so many executives (from the commander-in-chief on down) could benefit from such needling. So we saw it as our joyful duty to bring The Executive Coloring Book back. After all, while this book might not be a vehicle for meditation, in worrisome times what better therapy is there than humor? The Executive Coloring Book is on sale March 28, 2017. Stay tuned for more on how to participate in the re-release of this classic coloring book!
It’s been an amazing year for reading, and the The New York Times Book Review editors have selected some of their favorites. Check out some of the most loved books of the year:
Journalist and author Lisa Napoli joins Amy to talk about her book, RAY & JOAN. They discuss McDonald’s history, radical giving, technological advances, and the work of art that inspired Napoli to start digging. .